GOSPEL SONNETS: Spiritual Songs in Six Parts
Ralph Erskine, edited by Dr. Mike Renihan, Transcribed by Michelle L. Renihan
"Ralph Erskine (1685-1752) was a great man of God, a great preacher, and a great poet. Six of his seven volumes of Works - all of them sermons - have often been reprinted in the last two centuries. The seventh volume - a volume of poetry - has not, yet, ironically, this was the most common Erskine volume reprinted in his own day! SGCB is to be commended for republishing this great book of gospel poetry, so that we can once again have all of Ralph Erskine's extant writings in print. Erskine's poetry excels in certain areas, such as the interrelationship of law and gospel. It will enhance your knowledge of God's Word, imbue your theology with discernment and warmth, and move you to worship the triune God with doxological praise." - Dr. Joel Beeke
"Erskine's productions appear in a genre little appreciated nowadays, but the paralleled inference, balanced clarity, distilled compass, and tensioned logic he sets forth in lyrical metre excels the most studied prose of moderns. One section alone, entitled: 'The Believer's Principles' would send many a contemporary treatise packing. I cannot consult it without a quick look turning into an hour of concentrated enjoyment. My copy, printed in 1796, was a gift from a dear friend, and if there were a fire and I could only save one or two books, Erskine's 'Sonnets' would be the first I would reach for. I respect the 'Michaels' (Gaydosh and Renihan) highly, but higher still for placing these theological poems in the hands God's people once again." - Pastor Tom Lyon
"In your hand is a new edition of a classic work of godly, manly, theologically-informed poetry. It is godly because its main purpose is to point sinners to God and the sufficiency of His Word for all that is needed for faith and godliness. It is manly because the words are addressed to real people with an insightful understanding of the full complexities of sin's effects on human nature. It is theologically-informed from the pages of God's Word. Actually, these words drip with the content of the whole counsel of God. All the major doctrines are addressed at one time or another." - from editor Dr. Mike Renihan
If the number of Editions of any performance, be a mark of public approbation, Mr. Erskine's Gospel Sonnets have a claim to that distinction, and they may be ranked amongst those of general esteem and usefulness; few books have been so often printed in the same space of time. The present Edition, it is hoped, will be sound not less worthy of public encouragement, than those that have gone before it, as considerable attention has been paid to the correcting, by comparing it with former editions; and every thing is to be found here that has appeared in the most approved copies of the Gospel Sonnets.
Mr. Erskine's Poems, as Dr. Bradbury says,"are greatly to be esteemed; and above all, for that which animates the whole, the favour of divine and experimental knowledge."
THE SIX PARTS ARE -
I. The Believer's Espousals.
II. The Believer's Jointure.
III. The Believer's Riddle.
IV. The Believer's Lodging.
V. The Believer's Soliloquy.
VI. The Believer's Principles, concerning -
CREATION AND REDEMPTION,
LAW AND GOSPEL,
JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION,
FAITH AND SENSE,
HEAVEN AND EARTH.
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PART SIX - The Believer's Principles
SECT. II. Of Redemption.
The mystery of the Redeemer's incarnation; or God manifested in the flesh. 1 Tim. iii. 16. John i. 14.
What though the waters, struck with dread,
Rise up and form a pyramid?
Though floods should gush from rocks and stones,
Or living souls from wither'd bones?
To hear of an incarnate God,
Is yet more wonderful and odd;
Or to behold how God most high
Could in our nature breathe and die.
What though the bright angelic forms
Degraded were to crawling worms?
These creatures were but creatures still,
Transform'd at their Creator's will.
Though creatures change a thousand ways,
It cannot such amazement raise,
Nor such a scene as this display,
The eternal Word a piece of clay.
God-man a strange contexture fix'd;
Yet not confused nor commix'd;
Yet still a mystery great and fresh,
A Spirit infinite made flesh.
What though, when nothing heard his call,
Nothing obey'd and brought forth all?
What though he nothing's brood maintain,
Or all annihilate again?
Let nothing into being pass,
Or back again to what it was?
But, lo! the God of beings here,
As turn'd to nothing doth appear.
All heav'n's astonish'd at his form,
The mighty God became a worm.
Down Arian pride to him shall bow,
He's Jesus and JEHOVAH too.
The Sum of Redemption.
With haughty mind to Godhead man aspir'd,
With loving mind our manhood God desir'd;
Man was by pride from place of pleasure chas'd,
God-man by love in greater pleasure plac'd.
Man seeking to ascend procur'd our fall,
God yielding to descend remov'd our thrall:
The Judge was cast, the guilty to acquit,
The Sun defac'd, to lend the shades the light.